Rest and activity are the two modes we are designed to be in. The quality and duration of sleep impacts our health and wellbeing – starting from the cellular level to all our organs, overall immune system, metabolism and even our mood.
Vital biological processes get activated during various stages of sleep, and perform housekeeping tasks that allow us to function on a day to day basis. Aligning our sleep cycle with nature’s design & rhythm allows our body to stay in optimal health at all levels - physical, cognitive and emotional. Good sleep is a both a building block and a great measure of your wellbeing –This article explores the integral role played by sleep in our overall health and healing.
Imagine a machine that can recharge itself over and over, and even repair itself if need be. We’re talking about our body, and the beautiful mechanism of sleep which allows us to do just that. Sleep is nature’s way of programming us for the downtime we need – to rest, repair, renew and restore. This holds true for all forms of life, from giant mammals to plants, and even unicellular organisms such as plankton indicating that sleep is an intrinsic part of our biological design.
Quick facts on sleep and health
Have you ever wondered how do animals recover when they fall sick? They sleep through it
Have you ever noticed kids sleeping more when they are unwell and down with cold, fever or loose motion?
Our brain and liver our two main organs, which perform vital functions for our body. When we are awake, brain gets priority; when we sleep liver gets priority
During sleep our body is hard at work. This is the only time body can fully focus on cell renewal, regeneration and repair.
No matter what illness you are going through, be it fever, cold, cough, allergies, diabetes or even cancer, reset your sleep schedule. Allow your body more repair time.
When we rest in sleep, our system gets busy at work, to restore and replenish us!
Almost seventy-five percent of our sleep is spent in the NREM (non-rapid eye movement) state, which is when we sleep the deepest. During this period, our muscles relax, our heart rate and breathing become regular, and our body temperature and blood pressure sees a drop. Our brain waves also slow down. All of this allows our body to conserve crucial energy, which is then directed towards essential maintenance tasks vital for our day to day functioning.
Cleansing and detoxification
This is undoubtedly the most important process that happens during sleep, under the leadership of our liver. The liver - one of the most hard-working organs in the body, is at its most active during the early hours of night. It cleanses out all the metabolic waste and toxins that have accumulated through the day, so that the body can eliminate these when we wake up. This explains why we feel the urge to clear our bowels when we wake up every morning!
It is fascinating to note that our liver cells are sensitive to the natural circadian rhythm, and if our sleep is disturbed, the liver is unable to perform at its best. As a result, our body ends up accumulating more toxins, the one and only cause for all diseases.
It is only during deep sleep that we see a peak in the release of growth hormones, necessary for cell reproduction and repair. We can see this in young infants & children, where their growth bursts are directly correlated with the frequency of their sleep bursts. Even in adult life, deep sleep is the period when our body is undergoing repair and healthy cells regeneration.
Getting our daily dose of shuteye is also proven to keep us happier. We don’t really need science to tell us this, do we? Sleep helps us process, and reduce the impact of the strong negative emotions we might feel through the day. When we don’t sleep well, we often experience more anger, anxiety, irritability, frustration and sadness. We also see more mood swings, and chronic sleep deprivation can also result in long term mood disorders.
Replenishment of nerve energy
In sleep, the brain produces low-voltage, electrical energy known as “nerve energy”, that runs our body. We’ve all experienced how we feel depleted during the end of the day, and refreshed and re-energized after a good night’s sleep. Sleep helps us replenish this nerve energy. Lack of adequate sleep hours or shallow sleep can make you feel disoriented, confused and go through a condition called brain fog. On the other hand restoring a good sleep habit, will ensure you have higher focus, concentration, and an overall sense of wellbeing, which is triggered by replenishing of this nerve energy
It has been observed that poor sleep causes an increase in the hunger hormone, ghrelin. As a result, we tend to eat more than what we need and get attracted to junk food, increasing the likelihood of weight gain, and higher risk for related conditions like diabetes, hypertension and so on. Sleeping well is definitely the right building block, for managing weight in the long run
Summary: In summary, sleep helps us renew ourselves, literally! It is nature’s real doctor. A good night'ssleep means laying down a strong foundation for a happier, healthier wellness oriented life. If you are facing sleep challenges, we understand it could be hugely frustrating too. In our next article, explore some time-tested steps on how to build back a robust sleep schedule.
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